The Powerpoint Faux Pas you were mad about as a kid but should avoid now

Nothing sparks more joy than telling a group of children in school they can make a PowerPoint. When you were young, a PowerPoint felt exciting and definitely beat writing pages by hand. You’d often be partnered up with a friend, giving each other that knowing grin when your teacher put you together with the whole afternoon to assemble your creative masterpiece to be shown to the class at the end of the day.

No doubt from the perspective of the teacher the point of the exercise was to gain knowledge on the topic in question, but in reality the task usually became a game of who could create the swankiest PowerPoint. Sadly at 12, swanky meant overdoing it on Word Art and the jazziest slide transitions you could find. Information was easy to copy and paste but the real work was choosing which font and colours would make your presentation stand out from the rest. We’ve all committed PowerPoint faux pas but the reality is they need to stay in the past.

Font

Font choice was key. You needed a bold title if  you wanted your audience engaged from the beginning. Whether it was the ever exciting ‘Jokerman’ or the daintier choice of ‘Curlz MT’, font choice would no doubt take a good half an hour, particularly if you and your partner had differing creative visions. They wanted the drama of ‘Impact’ while you favoured the school classic ‘Comic Sans’, at least you both agreed on using the rainbow effect Word Art – it would go nicely with your clashing background for extra oomph.

Background

With a bold choice of font and all the Word Art effects possible thrown at the opening slide, now came the issue of slide background. With all the aforementioned going on it could be assumed that a safe choice would be to keep the background neutral, however why opt for safe and sensible when PowerPoint offer gradient backgrounds with one, two, and sometimes three colours featured in the mix. The more it could clash with your choice of title colour the better really.

Slide Transitions

Slide transitions really were a lot of fun, they made every child feel like an amateur movie maker. Moving from one slide to the next could be made more exciting by opting for the dissolve function, the new slide pushing up from the bottom, a checkerboard effect, or the infamous spinning entrance and exit. Unfortunately, on a presentation with more than 3 slides the continuous effect of these enthusiastic transitions resulted more in a feeling of motion sickness than of creative sophistication.

Animations

It always added a sense of suspense to a presentation when clicking to the next slide and it appearing blank. A few more clicks and the content would often fly in from the side, fade in, or spin like a wheel onto the screen. Sounds great I know and it definitely added an element of entertainment that corporate presentations don’t possess. That said, it was a lot going on and to save time the presenters undoubtedly spent more time clicking through the ‘animations’ to get the content to appear quickly that they served as more of an inconvenience than a worthy addition.

Want to know how to create a PowerPoint that will get noticed for all the right reasons? Check out our videos on How not to ruin your talk with PowerPoint